AAAS Dismisses Blogs

| 45 Comments | 3 TrackBacks

I find it interesting that despite several articles on the confluence of science and blogs in science magazines and journals and the establishment of blogs by many mainstream science news outlets, the AAAS’s EurekAlert! refuses to grant embargo credentials to bloggers. As Dr. Hsien Hsien Lei of Genetics and Health was recently told:

I appreciate your email, Hsien, but unfortunately, the decision must stand. Our eligibility criterion does not include writing blogs of any kind. Feel free to re-register in the future, should your writing outlets expand.

Did you get that? Blogging is a narrow outlet. I guess AAAS doesn’t think that thousands of daily readers is a broad enough audience to promote their articles. I guess such an derision of Web 2.0 might explain why PLoS has been successfully cutting into Science’s market.

How about we show EurekAlert! that there is a market out there for blog-based science news? I suggest that all the science bloggers out there, who read this, go apply for journalist access to EurekAlert!. Just fill out this form and mention your position as a blogger. Don’t forget to leave a comment here about your experience.

Hat Tip: Coturnix

Update:

In the comments, Ginger Pinholster, AAAS’s director of public programs, has clarified their position. It looks like those of us with dual affiliations, e.g. scientist-bloggers, are out of luck.

3 TrackBacks

More on EurekAlert! from A Blog Around The Clock on March 8, 2007 3:45 PM

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Are we Press? from A Blog Around The Clock on March 13, 2007 6:28 PM

Hsien reports that the CEO of b5media (organization that hosts her blog) left a comment on Panda's Thumb (why not on her blog which is, after all, a b5media blog?) in which he states that: All it takes for us... Read More

Awww. I feel so loved. Jeremy Wright, b5media’s CEO, rode to my defense regarding the whole AAAS EurekAlert! shambles. Here’s what he posted over at The Panda’s Thumb. Hey everyone, I’m the CEO of b5media and, to be honest, I’m m... Read More

45 Comments

You are awesome!!!

Done! Maybe the rest of the Pandas crew could get on this as well.

Funny; I have an RSS feed from EurekAlert! that I mainly access through my blog (as I do with Pandasthumb, EvolutionBlog, Chris Mooney’s blog, etc.) I find it to be a very useful way of getting alerts about new publications, and I would imagine that millions of other people do as well. I’m surprised to see AAAS being so narrow-minded about this subject.

I’ve registered as a freelance writer. Who knows if they will accept my registration.

I just filled my registration as well. I’ll post the response I get here.

Would it help to have your readers chime in ? I don’t want to pester them if it will hinder your cause.

If you can find some sort of feedback form on EurekAlert, I guess you can let them know your opinion. However, the form that I link to above is for applying to the embargo service. I only recommend that people doing some sort of science journalism on blogs fill out that form.

Did you get that? Blogging is a narrow outlet.

Ah, you’re seriously misconstruing the comment. The writer obviously means expand outside of blogs when he wrote “should your writing outlets expand”.

Nathan,

I don’t see how that makes much of a difference. If EurekAlert thinks that bloggers need to expand their outlets, then to me the implication is that blogs are too narrow (or not expansive enough) to meet some threshold criterion.

Reed wrote:

If EurekAlert thinks that bloggers need to expand their outlets, then to me the implication is that blogs are too narrow (or not expansive enough) to meet some threshold criterion.

The way I read the brief quote is that it’s not the market size he’s concerned about, but the very nature of blogs. Quality, rather than quantity.

Ah, you’re seriously misconstruing the comment.

No, he’s not.

The writer obviously means expand outside of blogs when he wrote “should your writing outlets expand”.

Duh, but that doesn’t support your claim that Reed misconstrued his comment; to the contrary.

The way I read the brief quote is that it’s not the market size he’s concerned about, but the very nature of blogs. Quality, rather than quantity.

That’s an interesting “way” of reading, since the quote says nothing about any of that.

Hello to readers of this Web site. I welcome the opportunity to clarify reporter registration processes in place at the science-news Web site, EurekAlert!. More than 5,200 reporters from 60 different countries are now registered to access embargoed news on EurekAlert!. Another 700,000 members of the public access non-embargoed news on the site each month. In accordance with Securities Exchange Act guidelines, embargoed access is provided for on-staff and freelance reporters, editors or producers who are employed by accredited news media outlets. Science reporters who meet these criteria and also have blogs are, of course, not excluded from access to embargoed content on EurekAlert!. Individuals with dual affiliations are ineligible (i.e., financial analyst, lobbyist, researcher, professor, physician, student, and so on). As the Internet media evolves, EurekAlert! and its advisors will continue to evaluate policies. Thank you for this opportunity to explain the situation of our non-profit organization.

embargoed access is provided for on-staff and freelance reporters, editors or producers who are employed by accredited news media outlets

Is b5media an accredited news media outlet? If not, why not?

Science reporters who meet these criteria and also have blogs are, of course, not excluded from access to embargoed content on EurekAlert!.

According to the email from “Eryn” of EurekAlert!, someone who only writes blogs doesn’t qualify, even if an employee of an accredited new media outlet. If that isn’t the policy, you should inform Eryn. If that is the policy, then you have misstated it.

Popper wrote:

Duh, but that doesn’t support your claim that Reed misconstrued his comment; to the contrary.

Sure it does. Note Reed’s original response: “thousands of daily readers…” This defense is irrelevent to the charge that a blog is a poor quality information resource.

That’s an interesting “way” of reading, since the quote says nothing about any of that.

Nope, but the quote doesn’t say “you don’t reach enough viewers” either. My interpretation is more reasonable and matches the requirement that states “employed by accredited news media outlets”. Reed’s interpretation is one that makes the quote seem absurd.

While blog readers may disagree with the criterion, it’s not fair to paint it as stupid.

Sorry, Nathan, but I find your “arguments” here to illogical, incoherent, and full of wild leaps and strawmen.

Wow! So if you are a scientist or student you cannot get embargoed content?! That is outrageous.

And “expand”, means getting an additional stint with a “real” magazine, implying that blogs are not serious outlets.

Popper wrote:

Sorry, Nathan, but I find your “arguments” here to illogical, incoherent, and full of wild leaps and strawmen.

And I find your “reasoning” to be merely unsupported assertions. Common ground at last. ;-)

Whether or not b5media is currently accredited should not matter since many freelance writers work only for themselves and are not employed as staff by any organization for any length of time beyond the time it takes to ready a piece for publication.

Clearly, I received a response that was insufficient and dismissive. I no longer work a university and will probably publish papers in “reputable” outlets in the future but I consider this a test case in how professional bloggers are (mis)treated by traditional organizations who cannot recognize the value of high quality blogs.

FYI, I received a press pass earlier this year to attend the London Toy Fair in the capacity of a blogger for PlayLibrary.com. Hundreds of bloggers also attended the Consumer Electronics Show on press passes as well. Attitudes and perceptions are changing albeit slowly.

Hello again, all. To answer the questions posed in comment number 164603 – particularly given the rapid expansion of the Internet, in cases of uncertainty regarding the status of a specific Web site or registrant, we will seek input from our advisors. Science reporters, including those who maintain recognized science-news Web sites, are always eligible, so long as they have no ineligible dual affiliation. We’re clarifying policies internally with staff, as you suggested, and again, we’ll continue to evaluate all of these questions. Thank you again, and warm regards.

coturnix Wrote:

Wow! So if you are a scientist or student you cannot get embargoed content?! That is outrageous.

I think this negatively affects the science news community because it essentially means that people with working expertise in science are at a disadvantage when it comes to covering science news. Thus we see so many poorly written science news stories.

However, I can imagine that there could be a conflict of interest in such dual affiliations. Of course, most people that are likely to have conflicts (e.g. competitors) already hear about upcoming papers before they are published.

The funny thing is, I don’t believe many of the press releases on EurekAlert! are of such high quality to begin with. So anything written/regurgitated based on those pieces can only get worse. I can easily call up or email any researcher who’d be more than willing to talk to me, a peer, and get better information than what I’d get from EurekAlert! (As I’ve shown in many of the interviews I’ve conducted exclusive to Genetics and Health.) I decided to register on a lark to see exactly they’re hiding from the rest of us commoners. I’m generally not a break-the-rules kind of gal but I’m now feeling up for a revolution.

Thanks to everyone, including Ms. Pinholster, for your opinions and input. I wonder why she didn’t respond directly to me at GeneticsAndHealth.com. I was, after all, the original wronged party.

Nathan, let’s focus on the real issue here, which is the notion of legitimacy. In addition to referring to “accredited” news media outlets, Ms. Pinholster writes “Science reporters who meet these criteria and also have blogs …”. The implicit idea, made explicit in “Eryn”’s letter, is that blogs are not a legitimate form of science reporting. It takes no “painting” to make this, if not stupid, at least foolish and out of touch. Indeed people may disagree with the criteria, and urge AAAS to change those criteria – which is a lot more relevant then trying to argue that taking “expand X” as implying that X is too narrow is a misconstrual.

Thanks, Ms. Pinholster, for your presence here and your responses. You wrote:

Science reporters, including those who maintain recognized science-news Web sites, are always eligible, so long as they have no ineligible dual affiliation.

Can you please clarify what you mean by “science reporters”, “recognized science-new Web sites”, and “ineligible dual affiliation”? It appears that Hsien Lei is a science reporter (among other things), and that geneticsandhealth.com is a science-news Web site, maintained by b5media. When Hsien Lei wrote to AAAS, he was told “Our eligibility criterion does not include writing blogs of any kind.” That doesn’t seem to correspond to anything you have written, which is about what the requirements are, not what the criteria do not include. That letter seems to imply that there’s a requirement that a science reporter or a news media outlet must operate through a medium other than a blog, but you have referred to “Web sites” – do you make some distinction between the two? Thanks for your consideration.

When Hsien Lei wrote to AAAS, he was told

Oops, my apologies to Ms. Hsien Lei. One more nail in the coffin of my unconscious biases.

Hey, AAAS’s EurekAlert! – Dismiss this: http://normdoering.blogspot.com/

I think this negatively affects the science news community because it essentially means that people with working expertise in science are at a disadvantage when it comes to covering science news. Thus we see so many poorly written science news stories.

hmm, interesting perspective, but doesn’t that presume that scientists in general write well about science?

I’ve certainly known a lot of scientists who could write a decent article for publication in a journal, but as popular science writers would, pardon the expression, suck eggs.

Hmm, I kind of get Eureka Alert’s policy (and kind of don’t). News embargoes on science articles are meant to assure publisher’s that the story won’t be scooped ahead of publication. Blogger’s have no real reason to adhere to any ‘understood embargo’ and may steal the thunder thought to be reserved for the journal publishing the article. Furthermore, the ‘dualism’ argument also makes sense on the surface. Why should a researcher be privy to new results ahead of publication? Won’t this encourage them to steal ideas when possible and publish them first? It’s nearly impossible. The review cycle is far too slow to worry about scooping an in-press article. In fact, if the editorial board are doing their job, it is highly likely that the reviewers of the article would also be the same people trying to scoop the results. That’s because they know as much about the forthcoming article as the author and would have a vested interest in criticizing/lauding the outcome. IMVHO, science blogs can still perform a useful function by previewing in press articles. I do this regularly on my blog by searching through the ‘in-press’ literature now available on many journal sites. In fact, considering the pure volume of published literature, it’s fairly easy to be the first to blog on new research.

Cheers

Joe Meert

I work for a company that distributes embargoed news, and we have the same kinds of policies when it comes to bloggers. I can tell you that it has nothing to do with recognizing the legitimacy of blogging as journalism, and it has everything to do with staying on the right side of federal law. SEC guidelines require that we only give access to embargoed materials to accredited journalists. Period. Unfortunately, most blogs don’t meet that qualification. It’s an outdated, “old media” kind of rule, but that’s the way it works.

Hopefully the rules will change someday soon, because I think we’re missing out on huge opportunities by excluding the blogging community. Dr. Lei wrote in a comment in her blog that b5 Media is working on gaining accreditation. I hope they get it. I think the science journalism world would be much better off if b5 and other serious blogging communities can finally get that kind of recognition.

I have experience with Eurekalert in my former life as a science writer, and I can tell you that it’s a top-notch resource and a huge help to science journalists. I sympathize with the job they have to do. They distribute news for hundreds of universities and research centers and scientific journals, and they have to try to protect all of their embargoes. I’ve seen many, many embargo breaks by “legitimate” news outlets in my years as a journalist, and I can imagine how tough it must be to do this. Now that I’m on the other side of that, too, I can understand why Eurekalert has to be so careful about who gets access their embargoed materials.

A couple of quick searches suggest that there are bloggers who get access to embargoed materials.

See, for example, this article on general issues about broken embargoes. The examples given include bloggers, so there are obviously ways to get accredited journalist-like access. The links in this article should provide useful additional information.

The trouble with many of the “science” blogs like PZ Myers or Thoughts From Kansas is that they are, more often than not, opinion pieces on politics and anti religion rants using science as a front.

As such, they are SCIENTISM blogs.

Take PZ for example. An associate professor at a state university…whats he known for? His scientific publications? No, his blog and its anti religion stance.

Which is his right of course, but it ain’t SCIENCE.

But of course, when the day comes that blogs count as “peer reviewed literature” then you folks will have it made.

I mean, publishing some real articles is WORK, man!

so you, DMC, in your infinite wisdom, choose to expound an opinion that is at the same time: ignorant, misplaced, and a complete strawman.

ignorant, in that the subject of your attack certainly HAS published in the scientific literature

misplaced, in that your rant is totally off-topic for what this thread is actually about

a strawman in that blogs were never meant as peer reviewed literature in the first place

congratulations, you’ve certainly shown everyone here a thing or two.

idiot.

PZ writes on several subjects on his blog, including science and atheism. But apparently DMC is too stupid to look to see which category the various articles are in.

DMC, You suffer under the common misconception that blogging is easy. I can’t tell you how many applicants I get for blogging positions at b5media who become irate when I describe how much work it is to put together a quality blog and promote it as well. They simply refuse to believe me.

Being a good blogger means that you’re writer, investigator, editor, and PR all rolled up into one. Just because the majority of blogs out there are shite doesn’t mean that the good ones don’t deserve respect.

PZ’s blog is not about science.

Its about USING science to promote his particular political and religious agenda.

Who ya all kiddin?

That goes two ways.

Some of these remarks regarding PZ’s blog are instructive. Creationists/ID’ers tend to see things in black and white. There are only two models ours and theirs. Evolution either occurs naturally or via intelligent input. PZ’s blog is either about science or pushing an atheist agenda. I’ve read enough of PZ’s blog to know that it touches on myriad topics including politics, religion, science, atheism, humor etc etc. One of the reasons his blog is so popular is that he has a little of something for everyone. When you try to make the point that his blog is only about one thing makes you look silly and convinces the rest of us that you’ve not bothered to read myers’ blog.

Cheers

Joe Meert

Ah, Joe, quit yanking my chain.

You know that PZ’s main focus is fighting religion.

Sure, he mentions some other subjects, but that is his focus and what he USES science for.

And its what he is known for, not his outstanding scientific work.

What we know is that Goldstein is a moronic crank.

When religion tries to push a theocratic agenda under the guise of science it deserves to be attacked vociferously and without mercy.

Cheers

Joe Meert

Right Goldstein. That is absolutely not what I claimed and it wasn’t even very clever of you. Let’s hear about your CV. FYI here are some of PZ’s

Myers PZ, Larson M, Hartwell M Ethanol teratogenesis in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY 235 (1): 339 JUL 1 2001 Times Cited: 0 Context Sensitive Links

2. Dudkin EA, Myers PZ, Ramirez-Latorre JA, et al. Calcium signals monitored from leopard frog optic tectum after the optic nerve has been selectively loaded with calcium sensitive dye NEUROSCIENCE LETTERS 258 (2): 124-126 DEC 18 1998 Times Cited: 4 Context Sensitive Links

3. STACHEL SE, GRUNWALD DJ, MYERS PZ LITHIUM PERTURBATION AND GOOSECOID EXPRESSION IDENTIFY A DORSAL SPECIFICATION PATHWAY IN THE PREGASTRULA ZEBRAFISH DEVELOPMENT 117 (4): 1261-1274 APR 1993 Times Cited: 295 Context Sensitive Links

4. MYERS PZ, BASTIANI MJ CELL CELL-INTERACTIONS DURING THE MIGRATION OF AN IDENTIFIED COMMISSURAL GROWTH CONE IN THE EMBRYONIC GRASSHOPPER JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE 13 (1): 115-126 JAN 1993 Times Cited: 26 Context Sensitive Links

5. MYERS PZ, BASTIANI MJ GROWTH CONE DYNAMICS DURING THE MIGRATION OF AN IDENTIFIED COMMISSURAL GROWTH CONE JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE 13 (1): 127-143 JAN 1993 Times Cited: 79 Context Sensitive Links

6. MYERS PZ, BASTIANI MJ NEUROVIDEO - A PROGRAM FOR CAPTURING AND PROCESSING TIME-LAPSE VIDEO COMPUTER METHODS AND PROGRAMS IN BIOMEDICINE 34 (1): 27-33 JAN 1991 Times Cited: 14 Context Sensitive Links

7. METCALFE WK, MYERS PZ, TREVARROW B, et al. PRIMARY NEURONS THAT EXPRESS THE L2/HNK-1 CARBOHYDRATE DURING EARLY DEVELOPMENT IN THE ZEBRAFISH DEVELOPMENT 110 (2): 491-504 OCT 1990 Times Cited: 147 Context Sensitive Links

8. MYERS PZ, EISEN JS, WESTERFIELD M DEVELOPMENT AND AXONAL OUTGROWTH OF IDENTIFIED MOTONEURONS IN THE ZEBRAFISH JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE 6 (8): 2278-2289 AUG 1986 Times Cited: 218 Context Sensitive Links

9. EISEN JS, MYERS PZ, WESTERFIELD M PATHWAY SELECTION BY GROWTH CONES OF IDENTIFIED MOTONEURONS IN LIVE ZEBRA FISH EMBRYOS NATURE 320 (6059): 269-271 MAR 20 1986 Times Cited: 226 Context Sensitive Links

10. MYERS PZ SPINAL MOTONEURONS OF THE LARVAL ZEBRAFISH JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE NEUROLOGY 236 (4): 555-561 1985 Times Cited: 96

My error, some of those are a different PZ Myers; however, others are the PZ Myers. We still have not heard about your pubs Goldstein.

Cheers

Joe Meert

Hey everyone,

I’m the CEO of b5media and, to be honest, I’m more than a little confused by this. All it takes for us to issue bloggers accreditation is that we - are you ready for this? - issue them press badges and register those badges with one of the two dozen journalist associations in north america.

That’s it.

I’m unsure how that protects anyone. We also have strict internal policies on releasing embargoed data (we get it all the time) pre-embargo (though we will go with it if we find it elsewhere, just like any other news organization).

I’d be more than happy to chat with the folk at the AAAS or other organizations about this to explain just how bloggers such as Hsien are just as much journalists, reporters and freelancers, if not more so, than hundreds of the “press” that are approved by the AAAS.

Also, more than happy to chat with the science blogging community about ways we can, together, work to get more recognition and trust and so forth - and anything that b5 can do to help that along.

For the record, I think this sucks and that simply communicating effectively (ie: asking questions about editorial guidelines and so forth instead of simply assuming all blogs are evil) could have gone a long way to ensuring this situation didn’t in any way get out of hand.

An undergraduate? That explains everything.

Cheers

Joe Meert

Pierce Mattie PR values Bloggers and it really behooves me personally when such sites as EurekAlert do not. Do they live in the stone age?

I decided to interview Dr. Lei on our Fitness & Health blog about the issue and those interested can view that interview here: http://www.piercemattie.com/fitness[…]etics_h.html

“behooves”?

Methinks that much of the tosh that has appeared here is ample justification for the AAAS’s stand.

“Wow! So if you are a scientist or student you cannot get embargoed content?! That is outrageous.”

No. It is just a fact of life. I just hope the person who said that was joking.

I’ll let you into a secret. Embargoed stories are a pile of crap.

Journals and the like use them to manipulate the media. Journalists use them to collude with their colleagues and to persuade news editors to run their copy.

A decent science journalist eschews embargoed material. I wonder how often Woodward and Bernstein used them.

Declaration of interests: I have been on the list of “good guys” with access to embargoed material since EurekAlert! opened for business. Nice to have, but not sure that I have ever wet my pants when something came flying over the transom. Ginger even bought me a beer once, or maybe it was the other way round.

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on March 8, 2007 1:30 PM.

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